The song, which tells the listeners, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”, is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California, during the late 1960s.
Released on May 13, 1967, the song was an instant hit. By the week ending July 1, 1967, it reached the number four spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, where it remained for four consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, the song rose to number one in the UK Singles Chart, and most of Europe. In July 1967, McKenzie’s previous record label, Capitol, claimed that the “follow-up” to this was their re-release of his earlier single, “Look in Your Eyes.” The single is purported to have sold over seven million copies worldwide. In Central Europe, young people adopted “San Francisco” as an anthem, leading the song to be widely played during Czechoslovakia‘s 1968 Prague Spring uprising.